To commemorate my travels around Texas and the states I’ll be doing a short series of “Texan Epicurean Concepts” over the next few weeks. These concepts will hopefully help you more fully enjoy your next trip to Texas.
First up is a childhood favorite of mine – Sweet Tea.
Growing up in Abilene, TX, sweet tea was the only tea I knew. When you go to a restaurant or truck stop diner you’re given a choice of drink.
“What yall want to drink.”
“Sweet or Unsweet”
“Sweet please m’am”
“K, sug (pronounced shoog), yall keep lookin at yer menus and I’ll be right back with yer teas”
There was no hot tea, Earl Grey, Oolong, Green, or anything else. Tea was cold. It was usually either a variety of instant tea or sun tea. People were firmly in one camp or another… and unlike beer preferences, there’s not a typical sweet tea drinker. Anyone with a sweet tooth drinks sweet tea… old men, little girls, cowboys, etc. Amazingly I’ve even seen folks add more sugar after the drink hits the table!
According to Wikipedia Sweet Tea is
a form of iced tea in which sugar or some other form of sweetener is added to the hot water before, while, or after brewing the tea but before the beverage is cooled or chilled and served. Adding sweetener to hot water allows for supersaturation of the solution, enabling the tea to hold more dissolved sweetener than under colder temperatures.
Sweet tea is a staple of the south and can still be found in many local eateries around my home town of Abilene, TX. Sweet tea is best enjoyed in either a glass jug (as pictured above) on in a giant styrofoam cup. It may not be good for the environment, but I swear the delicious nectar tastes all the sweeter when contained in styrofoam and passed through a straw
Sweet tea may not have as refined a history as in China or the Virginal White Tea of Sri Lanka but it stands as a culinary staple for us in the south regardless. In fact I’ll be so bold as to equate it in taste and sweetness to the highly revered orange Chai Yen (or sweet Thai Tea) everyone enjoys when visiting their favorite Thai restaurant.
So next time you find yourself in the south, satisfy that sweet tooth with a giant glass of sweet tea.